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Florida County To Compensate Child Counsellors It Tried To Ban

by | Fri, Mar 10 2023

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A Florida county has been ordered to compensate two counselors it tried to ban from helping young people with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.

Palm Beach County lost an appeal against a court ruling that its local ordinance banning any form of ‘conversion therapy’ was unconstitutional.

The ordinance had prevented the counselors from providing clients who are legally considered as minors, with the help they were seeking.

Dr. Robert Otto and Dr. Julie Hamilton, together with their child clients, challenged the constitutionality of ordinances enacted by the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County which banned minors from seeking voluntary counseling from licensed professionals.

A US Court of Appeals found that the ‘conversion therapy’ ban violated the First Amendment right to free speech.

The counselors’ lawyers from Christian religious rights law firm Liberty Counsel argued the licensed therapists provided life-saving counseling to minors who sincerely desire to conform their attractions, behaviours, and gender identities to their sincerely held religious beliefs.

The lawyers added that under the ordinances that were struck down, a counselor could encourage a client to take life-altering hormone drugs or even undergo invasive surgery to remove healthy body parts, but could not help a client who seeks to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviour, or confusion.

Following the ruling, Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Matt Staver said: “Let this be a warning to any government that has not repealed similar counseling bans.”

“These speech restrictive laws violate the First Amendment. This case is the beginning of the end of similar unconstitutional counseling bans around the country.” he added.

“These victories set a precedent that minors who are struggling with gender confusion can get the help they need from counselors who are free from political censorship,” Mr. Staver concluded.

The same Court of Appeals had earlier struck down a similar Tampa, Florida ordinance that outlawed licensed counselors from providing voluntary ‘talk therapy’ to minors seeking to reduce or eliminate their sexual confusion.

That ordinance was also deemed unconstitutional under the First Amendment. 

CBN News reports that as a result of these decisions, counselors in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia are now free to help their child and teen clients by offering ‘talk therapy’.

Other Florida cities have similar ordinances which remain in effect.

Palm Beach County will also have to pay Liberty Counsel’s attorney’s fees and costs.